Words by Callum Sheppard
Many a website, newspaper and everyone with a best friend affected by jangly indie music have described The Magic Gang as being one of Britain’s next big guitar bands. My first introduction to them came in 2015 in sunny Brighton’s Concorde 2, supporting a pre-debut album Wolf Alice. Like The Magic Gang, they at the time were slowly building up a reputation in the resurgence of British rock. Yet I was sadly disappointed by the debut effort from Wolf Alice and so seeing the similarities between the groups, wondered whether this band might fall down the same rabbit hole. I was wrong.
You could understand though if The Magic Gang wanted to brutally experiment with their sound on their debut record. This occurs on the self-titled album, not brutally but in a loving, gentle manner. Take the beautiful ‘Take Care’, a piano-laden track that strips a great deal away yet leaves the harmonious melodies and vocals that they’ve been known for crafting in recent years. What do you end up with? A song that stands apart from the rest due to its core strength through a sense of wonder. If this is what is possible on the first album, don’t be surprised if there’s a continued luscious combination of sound in the future.
A couple of weeks back, discussion on Twitter turned to BBC Radio 6 Music after they asked, “what’s the strongest run of three songs in a row on an album?”. In all honesty, people might look back in years to come and say, ‘Getting Along’, ‘Alright’ and ‘Caroline’. I say this due to the sudden realisation that ear-burrowing choruses both enjoyable and creative, regardless of genre, are something you cannot ignore. Genuinely. Thankfully for everyone involved, it’s creations like these that end up being one of the many highlights across The Magic Gang.
Through production from the likes of ex-Maccabees guitarist Hugo White, as well as Jolyon Thomas and James Dring (who have both made a name producing a host of fantastic British artists), certain songs are transformed into brighter and more illustrious wonders. Even with ‘Alright’ being one of the group’s oldest tracks, the fuzzy, lo-fi greatness is turned into something of heavenly nature, without losing any of its self-contained DIY feel.
Over time, we all feel love and loss in one combination or another. Some people are a lot better at writing about it than the rest of us. Over the twelve songs that comprise this debut, Jack, Kris, Angus and Paeris have used their tales of misery and happiness to craft something wonderful. Although at times many of the lyrics carry a whole ‘alas, woe is me’ vibe, it’s that pain and suffering that has helped them perfect a set of cheerful yet forlorn pop songs. Imagine Spector’s All The Sad Young Men set to the joyous nature of Metronomy’s Love Letters and voila, The Magic Gang can carry themselves off into a near-future full of sadness, but being pretty happy whilst they do it.
THE MAGIC GANG IS RELEASED THIS FRIDAY (16/3) VIA YALA! RECORDS. PRE-ORDER HERE:
Lead photo: Dan Kendall